Made of volcanic tuff, brick-faced concrete and travertine, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater and most popular tourist attraction in the world, clocking in over 7 million visitors a year.
Why do so many people come to see the Colosseum? Well, as the name suggests, it’s colossal, giant, humongous! In its heyday, the Colosseum would host up to 80,000 spectators for epic gladiator fights and even recreations of naval battles. Talk about making a splash!
To host these spectacles in front of such large crowds, the Romans constructed this big daddy of an amphitheater, which still dominates the city skyline to this day after nearly 2,000 years.
Inside the Colosseum
Once you set foot inside the Colosseum, you have several different sections to explore.
You can walk around the exterior and climb from the lower to higher seating areas. If you’ve booked tickets or a tour with more exclusive access, you can also descend to the center of the arena and further down into the underground hypogeum.
Similar to what you see today in modern stadiums, there are good and not-so-good seats in the Colosseum, which were divided into four tiers — the more prestigious you were, the closer you were to the action.
The first tier, closest to the arena, provided the best views and was reserved for the senators, the Emperor and his Vestal Virgins.
The second tier was where the non-senatorial noble class and the Roman knights would sit.
The third tier was for wealthy citizens and those with respected professions, such as heralds, soldiers, priests and scribes.
The fourth tier at the very top of the Colosseum is what people might refer to today as the nosebleed seats. This was where slaves, women and the lower classes would cheer from.
The Arena and the Hypogeum
The center stage of the Colosseum is nearly the size of a modern football field and was once covered in sand, or as it’s called in Latin — “arena”.
This sand would hide the wooden platform and trap doors underneath, so that bears, tigers and other exotic creatures would seemingly appear out of nowhere.
Under the arena, you can see what remains of the “hypogeum” — a system of underground tunnels for performers and animals to move around the Colosseum, unseen by the spectators.
Standard Colosseum tickets don’t include access to the arena or the hypogeum, so be sure to book Full Experience Colosseum tickets if you want to see these areas. Another option is to book a Colosseum tour, as all tours include access to the arena and the hypogeum.
Outside the Colosseum
As you approach the Colosseum, you will first see the Arch of Constantine — the largest arch in all of Rome. However, next to the Colosseum, it could almost be called petite.
Looking up at the Colosseum, you can admire nearly 100 arches supported by massive columns and imagine how the throngs of spectators must’ve shuffled in and out for the day’s events.
The outer wall required over 100,000 cubic meters of travertine held together by 300 tons of iron clamps. Surprisingly, despite the massive scale, the Colosseum was constructed in less than a decade and hosted its first events in 80 AD.
As you can see, the Colosseum is no longer completely intact. A major earthquake in 1349 severely damaged the structure. Most of the tumbled stone was used to rebuild churches, palaces, hospitals and other buildings in the area affected by the earthquake.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the arena was no longer used for entertainment and was repurposed as a fortress, quarry and even for housing at times.
Over the centuries, the Colosseum has been regularly restored and used for many different purposes, which is why it still stands today as an iconic symbol of the vast wealth and power once wielded by the Roman Empire.
Other buildings once stood around the Colosseum, including a gladiator school, storage rooms for armor and machines, an infirmary for injured gladiators and a “spoliarium,” where the dead bodies of gladiators were kept after their defeat in the arena.
Where to book Colosseum tickets?
How do you skip the line? Colosseum tickets cannot be purchased at the Colosseum, so you will need to book them online in advance with a specific day and time.
The best way to skip the line is by booking a guided tour. The guide has special entry for most sites and can sometimes even bypass the security lines at some locations.
You can find tickets on the official site, but you can also book tickets from other websites, especially important for last-minute tickets when Colosseum tickets have already sold out on the official website.
What are the Colosseum’s opening times?
The Colosseum opens every day at 9 AM year-round. The closing time varies from 4:30 PM in the winter to 7:15 PM in the summer at the peak of the tourist season.
- From March 26 to August 31, the Colosseum closes at 7:15 PM.
- From September 1 to 31, the Colosseum closes at 7 PM.
- From October 1 to 28, the Colosseum closes at 6:30 PM.
- From October 29 to February 28, the Colosseum closes at 4:30 PM.
- From March 1 to 25, the Colosseum closes at 5:30 PM.
Please note that the Colosseum closes on January 1st, May 1st and December 25th. The final entry is one hour before closing time.
What is the best time of year to visit the Colosseum?
The best time of year to visit the Colosseum if you’re looking to avoid the crowd is in the winter, from November to February. However, remember it can get chilly, and the Colosseum will close a few hours earlier.
The densest crowds at the Colosseum are in the summer, from March to October. Also, winter break, around Christmas and the New Year, is another busy time of the year.
During these busy months, you should plan to visit the Colosseum early and on weekdays to avoid the peak of the crowd.
How do you get to the Colosseum?
The Colosseum is located in Piazza del Colosseo, and you can easily get there by public transport.
Take Line B or B1 to the Colosseum’s closest metro stop, Colosseo. The main entrance is a 5-minute walk from the station by Via Nicola Salvi.
Take Line 51, 75, 85, 87 or N2 to Colosseo station. Then, walk for about 5 minutes on Via Nicola Salvi until you reach the main entrance.
Lines 3 and 8 lead directly to the Piazza del Colosseo stop, which is a short walk away from the Colosseum.
By guided tour
This is certainly the most convenient way to get to the Colosseum. You can outsource all the stress and concerns about logistics to your tour guide, who will pick you up directly from your hotel.
Tickets for public transport
A One-Way Ticket costs €1.50 and includes unlimited transfers for 100 minutes, except for the metro line (when it’s only valid for a single journey).
- A 1-Day Pass costs €7 and includes unlimited transfers for 24 hours.
- A 2-Day Pass costs €12.50 and includes unlimited transfers for two days.
- A 3-Day Pass costs €18 and includes unlimited transfers for three days.
- A Week Pass costs €24 and includes unlimited transfers for seven days.
- Book tickets online. This is actually the only way to buy Colosseum tickets now. There are often ticket scalpers outside the Colosseum, but it’s best to avoid them.
- Watch out for scams. Don’t purchase tickets from random ticket sellers near the Colosseum. Better to use TourScanner to compare deals from trustworthy online ticket providers.
- Expect tight security measures. You won’t be allowed to enter with large backpacks or bags, glass bottles or sharp objects. Be sure to leave these items at the hotel.
- Pack lightly. There’s no cloakroom, so you’ll need to carry everything you bring with you.
- Check the conditions of your tickets and tours. Make sure to ask about terms and conditions when you book online. Colosseum tickets are designated for only one day and time. Multi-day tickets are most often only for consecutive days. Confirm these details to avoid problems.
- Wear your walking shoes. Don’t forget that everything about the Colosseum is ancient, including its walkways, which are often bumpy and uneven.
- Always carry your ID or passport, especially if you plan on entering with free or discounted tickets.
Enjoy your visit to the Colosseum. We hope this guide will be helpful in making the most of your visit! Divertiti! 😊🏛️
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